In the Asian Publishing Industry, China is now the world’s largest producer of scientific articles bearing a big stigma of quantity overweighed by quality. Over the last years, china’s publishing community has been so concerned with the number of papers produced, publishing those papers in journals listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI), and publishing in journals with high Journal Impact Factor (JIF). This ultimately forced the Chinese researchers to publish as many papers as possible.
To overcome this Publishing Dilemma, recently China’s Ministry of Science and Technology & Ministry of Education introduced an Action Plan for the Excellence of Chinese STM Journals.
Some Highlights of Action Plan:
Researchers and institutions are encouraged to publish or present their most important works in:
- Domestic STM journals with international influence
- Top international journals universally recognized in the research field
- Top domestic and international academic conferences
In principle, the number of papers (the “representative works”) that will count for basic research evaluation in grant applications or reports is limited in each evaluation cycle as follows:
- Individual researchers are limited to five representative works
- Key subject innovation teams: no more than ten representative works
- National Laboratories/State Key Laboratories and other scientific and engineering research bases: no more than 20 representative works
- Central level science research institutions: no more than 40 representative works
This new action plan is worth further analysis and the success ratio depends on how the new rules are going to be implemented and also upon handling by the researchers.
What do you think about this new Policy to improve publishing behavior? Can it worth redo for other Asian Countries?
Share your ideas and constructive approach to help maintain standards of the Asian Publishing Industry!
The idea of action plan is very nice and valuable. Honestly speaking most of us are running behind quantity instead of quality. To adopt the policy of few but good is most important. China has heavy investment in research industry. It is appreciated that if China also has good quality journals, which will also be helpful for researchers of other Asian countries. The journals that have experienced reviewers to publish quality work. These journals should not be the machinery to print money but to print quality, means no compromise on quality. As already suggested that they do not only accept the papers of known institutes without checking their quality but check the methodology and quality of work.
Dr. Safdar Ujjan
Publishing is important to researchers but, they also should take responsibility of every information they publish. Ensuring quality is a must regardless of the desired accrediting body (Web of Science or Scopus). By developing a Chinese citing body, it would mean limited readership due to Language barrier. One assert is the medium of communication, which should be in English Language so that broad readership is assured.
It is a very good initiative. The decisions taken are bold such as publishing fewer high quality articles in local journals with high international reputation. This should be encouraged. Focus should be given on quality and to check plagiarism. Reviewers should be involved from different countries of the world with high reputation. The plan seems to be appropriate.
Excellent plan. However in view of the aims, the scope should be wider and aim at more integration of eminent Chinese colleagues in editorial boards and functioning of scientific journals.
In principle this is a good idea but the devil is the detil. The general direction, as described in the post, seems to be good.
In Poland there is a similar solution at work (the period 2017-2020 will be evaluated in this way) but the details of its implementation are rather discouraging.
Following the kind request for opinion by the Asian Council of Science Editors (ACSE), as Associate Editor of the ‘European Journal of Gynaecological Oncology’ (EJGO) and of ‘Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics & Gynecology’ (CEOG), I can argue with good reason that, in order to achieve an excellence goal in STM journals, the authors must publish accurate and reproducible data, so favoring the science advancement, while the reviewers have to respect the scientific effort of the authors by trying to solve the critical issues that have emerged, when possible. The reviewers’ competence and the time spent on the revision process would deserve to be remunerated to some extent. In addition, certain STM journals should not be influenced by the fact that they could receive one more publication fee from the authors in case of manuscript acceptance and the submission fees should be forever abolished. Obviously, science cannot be limited to one nation but must be accessible to all, like the authors’ chance to publish in any journal around the world without racial or political discriminations.
I agree with you
Many research is funded and has commercial interest, if you research the research work today there is contradiction, research is for humanity so no nation should dominate otherwise the information will be baised ,peer review studies should be from all over the world before papers are published giving credibility and authenticity
Grammar and language care is really needed. Avoiding to separate key results in several articles. Statistical analysis and mathematical modeling should be stimulated.
I am very glad that the new plan want to change the publishing dilemma. In particularly, the reduction of published papers is absolutely necessary and must be rapidly explained to all Chinese scholars outside of China. Many of them feel that they must publish as much as possible or perish. It is frequently so difficult to explain that one good paper is better than many weak once. But this is not only a Chinese dilemma – it must be translated around the world.
In general, I am in favour of good quality Journals. Chinese Journals must earn their credits. How? Making them more open to international manuscripts. Implement a system that will lead to some solid Journals (aim to 2-3), better if they are interdisciplinary, like the PNAS from the USA. Select rigorous reviewers and highly respected Editors from all over the world.
Further, I am not in favour of limiting productivity. On the contrary, Science must be freed of constraints but must be provided fully with sums of money to conduct it.
I think the more effective approach is to evalaute quality parameters of the research than to quantitative limitation
Very good idea! Let us see it in practice.
Dr. Ahmed Amer
It is a great change and chance for the basic scientific research of P.R. China. I think it is a good thing. Nowadays, some excellent chinese scientist can do very good job in their major area. They even can leading the development of some ditection. But very regretfully， they published their original articles inenglish or in foreign top journals.Their findings not only cannot be read and spread in chinese by ther domestic collegues，but also they have to pay various expensive fees . What a pity！
I have already commented under my name but without titles. Prof. Slobodan Jankovic
Writing this in reply to your mail of China action plan for STM. I personally think that it is a very good initiative for the improvement of local and national research. This should be a great plan to enlighten national research with good quality. I have some small suggestions which might be helpful for the success of this plan.
1. I personally think that a strong and effective reviewer board is a highly demanding point for Chinese and Asian researchers. This panel can understand the language barrier and can support identifying the key areas.
2. To increase the audience who can read and understand the contribution of Chinese researchers in the field of STM. A science magazine for the journal public is the main demand. In this journal just cover the story and paste the link for the full article.
I would suggest a transformation of the system to emphasize young researchers and give them more space outside those established groups. A related issue is to reduce the impacts of those very senior researchers who have big groups in China and control the resource allocation for supporting scientific research in China. Once China got sufficient academicians who have solid scientific training, and they are mostly young, then the peer evaluation will become more effective in finding out who are actually doing scientific research, and who are just publishing papers. Reputation in Chinese research community now is a reflection of the size of the group, not the impact of the research.
The action plan seems perfect but I advise to Institute to encourage their researchers to make collaboration with the other countries not only Asian countries but also Europe or middle east countries
Thank you for sending me these details. I have many Chinese colleagues with whom I develop research in my field. That is why I am very interested in this action plan developed by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
Good idea. In my University (https://www.hse.ru/en/ Russia) we have a new rule of the same sense: while applying to a post-PhD degree “doctor of science” (somehow equivalent to habilitation) a person needs to present exactly 10 papers written after PhD defence. Previously there we no such limitation. I wish China’s science the very best luck!
It’s necessary to switch the presented view points to achieve a very good right perspective insted of just ‘limiting’ to the ‘excellency’ of ‘the good research results,’ since the complete publishing process for rating excellency of (both individual and group) research success is currently mostly accumulated in the three countries presented on the ‘top 10′ journals’ impact scale. As soon as a very good global equilibrium in overall research environment (which includes the available research infrastructure, financing, working conditions, impact on society instead of impact on citation lists, etc.) is achieved, then the ethical ratings according to ‘the excellent’ central scale will become much more appropriate.
It is an excellent plan.
After reading the highlighted action plan in a given link, I have my personal view which maybe ministry could have one more item to be considered. To have more impact on publishing, I encourage the institutions and industries could have joint publications and ASCE can give an evaluation on this item.
I hope you can consider my opinion in order to improve your future plan.
The ‘publish or perish’ dilemma you describe is not exclusively relevant to China. In addition, every scientist will try to publish their work as prominently as possible.
With regard to the Highlights of the action plan, I would change the order of 1 and 2 of publication sites: Top international journals of universal recognition should, in any case, be the first possibility to be considered, then domestic STM journals. In Europe and N America, you have the same situation. To gain international recognition you have to have publications in high impact journals. [Those are, by the way, also those with the highest quality reviewers.]
The practice to limit the number of publications (as ‘representative works’) in grant applications are already widely used in grant-providing bodies in Europe and N America and is strongly supported.
I think that tightening up the rules in the way as intended will be good for science, will sharpen the mind of scientists and improve the overall quality of grant applications. As noted above, the situation is not unique for China, and a revised policy will also be of benefit for other Asian countries, or countries elsewhere.
Since I do not understand Chinese, the above-mentioned comments are rather general. Is the more detailed Chinese plan not available in English?
I think that the action plan is highly appropriate, because it focus on quality rather than quantity. Elevating the quality of publications by encouraging high quality works is much important.
The issue of quality over quantity in scientific publications is too complex to address comprehensively here. I think that the Chinese action plan is reasonable because it is simple and practical, but it is certainly incomplete (e.g. it does not address open access) and it is not immediately applicable elsewhere.
Some issues to consider:
The responsibility for action, in my opinion, is with the funders and employers of researchers, not with the editors of journals, whether domestic or international. But editors may be able to influence local decision-makers toward quality and away from quantity; however, the quantity may be commercially more attractive for some journals than quality.
I do not believe that the journal impact factor should be used to judge a researcher’s performance: journals are not the best judges of new unpublished research, especially when a single editor filters incoming submissions. Readers and time are better judges: therefore, the author’s h-index is more representative (at least if self-citation is discounted).
Regarding domestic vs. international journals, to me, it is more important to go for high-quality journals (authors don’t need impact factors to know which those are). In scientific disciplines, this usually implies international English-language journals.
The number of papers to be counted for research evaluation will have to be adjusted to the local research community structure: the subdivisions in the Chinese plan of action (individuals vs. teams vs. laboratories vs. institutions) are geared to the Chinese structure and must be adapted for other countries.
I don’t know how to deal with publications that have large author lists unless journals can get authors to specify the percentage of their contribution to each article, so each author has a proper weight in the article’s value (that may work for papers with tens of authors, but not for papers with hundreds or thousands of authors).
Besides quality of publication, the credibility of Chinese research is a major issue as well. Much of the work reported from China, many times including that in good journals, fails reproducibility. I’d like to see both quality and credibility being addressed.
I think it is a very good idea, which can improve the quality of the published works. Another important action to help the Journals to receive more works with high quality is the implementation of a greater policy to encourage the participation of researchers from developing countries in this process, providing funding and possibilities for collaboration with research centers with greater structure.
Chinese Journals are so far prestigious as they are maintaining quality and many of them are pubmed indexed. My suggestion would be to keep the latest topics and updates in the journals so that journals become more attractive to the readers.
I congratulate your great initiatives.
It appears to be very much timely and with long term effects. When quality comes before qunatity, it is pretty obvious that we can expect good findings. Accordingly, the funding as well as assessments should also be done by looking at the broader impact of the findings. Publishing in STM journals of national repute is really a good initiative which will enable them to be at par with other recognized STM international journals.
Overall, the proposal is good.
This is good idea. It should be tried and may involve other Asian countries.
It is a good initiative. It requires coordinated efforts.
This is a good initiative. It is important that now the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity.
This is a good attempt to publish papers jointly by Chinese and other Asian nations. It will increase the quality of the article. However, there should be project support by the authority to encourage new works by the Asian nations especially in the developing countries. Unfortunately many government is reluctant on fostering the fundamental research rather they are hanker after the applied research. How would the technology come from if fundamental research is being neglected? Wish a great success of this honest attempt.
Mutual and combined effort both by china and pakistan is the need of the hour.Sceince is the not the monopoly of europe and america. Sceintific writting especialy paper writting is the demanding feild of the future. There is no doubt that european and americans are dominating in this field becusae of the quality of the research and high moral ethics.But with the commitment and financial investment, this gap can be covered in a rational manner. China being the friendly country of pakistan, can help us by investing in our higher education sector. Pakistan being the rich in ambitious and talented youth is the potenial candidate for the china co-operation.
I would like to share my experience with research articles from Cina. I am the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, the leading pubmed indexed biomedical journal of Pakistan.There is a large volume of high quality research being done in China as the government has invested in this field. The drawback is writing this research. As most top quality journals of the world are in the English language, the Chinese researchers face a handicap here. Every publisher cannot have means to completely overhaul the article. At times it can be damaging also. The Chinese researchers should first have a good command on the English language and then learn the art of writing correctly according to the universal guidelines.
Dr. Fatema Jawad
I must first congratulate China for their excellent initiatives.
The quality of the research project is supported by stable and sustainable financial support. China has already have a platform to work on and introducing a more robust program in collaboration with Asian scientist would be a bold move. You may need a good team of editors with excellent research skills in their specific research areas.
I would be happy to be a part of Asian Council of Science Editors.
If new journals are established under this policy, they must have a better curation system where field and sub-field of every article is clearly mentioned and categorised as a new standard. This shall lead to better citation fueling relevant research and a unique portfolio for publishing cutting-edge research.
It is better to improve the publication and their quality since large number of fake journals and research papers are emanating like mushrooms. Thus, need to consider the factors that differentiate publications as FAKE and must remove such factors within the publication policy. On the other end, there should be a strong editorial board and review panel to maintain the quality of research papers.
Absolutely a good initiative by China.
The government has enough financial support for their researchers in China.
Although research has no particular domain, however China can open a new platform; High quality journals in each branch of science combined with other Asian Editors and researches.
The Talented Young Scientist Program (TYSP) was on of the robust program introduced by China.
It is also important to maintain the quality of the publications than numbers.
It is very encouraging to know that STM publishing from China is looking for expansion and growth to reach international standards. My humble suggestion is that such an expansion should include geographical diversity in terms of authors and case studies such as those emanating from developing countries in Asia and Africa. Further, it needs to focus on sustainability aspects (environmental, social, and economic) considering that many of the countries are still in the development phase, unlike those in Europe and North America.
Definitely quality is better than quantity.
Very Good Action Plan.
Quality should be on priority rather than quantity.
I think this approach will be successful.
The action plan is aimed at improving quality. The action plan suggests that quality is measured by universally/internationally accepted journals and conferences. It also suggests that evaluation be based on a few highlighted publications. This is good for international journals (US/European) but would this be a good for indigenous journals is to be debated carefully. If China does not appreciate the quality of its science we can not expect the international community to appreciate it. I suggest that in addition to the above directives China/Asian countries should pump in money to establish high quality publishers associated with top notch universities in Asia. Project evaluations should be favored if articles are published through these publishers the same way Nature or Science articles are favored.
Great! I think this should have been done earlier but its better to do it late than never! No doubt this would help but I think it’s not enough.
In my opinion, there is a lot of improvement needed in two sectors if we wish to uplift research, publications and journals; English writing and quality research. Unfortunately Asian researcher emphasis on number of publications rather on quality research . To overcome this, we need to restructure research by implementing stricter rules I.e all research conducted should be novel, proper peer reviewed manuscript should be published. Promotions should be on the basis of impact factor rather than on number of publications (very important). This would encourage researcher to conduct good research and to write quality papers. Due to the pressure from research institution I have seen many publications with the same aim but with a new title and modified results, this should be avoided. Instead of this I would suggest to introduce a probation period for publication, where a researcher could add more or rectify data in a given time frame and to update their results in the manuscript already published.
Poorly written manuscript is big issue in Asian countries, I have seen very good data but presented in a vague way. We need to train the researcher I.e courses and training on how to write a high impact paper, improving writing skills, writing a paper with impact!
I hope this would help!
The quality and success of a journal needs good team of editors. These journals should maintain such teams of editors who
have excellent research skills in their specific areas
I fully support this venture by China. Chinese Government is spending significant amounts on R&D. It is to their advantage to have a reputable publishing outlet to their research rather than relying on western publishers. China has financial and manpower resources to run a good family of scientific journals as publication vehicle for the whole world. It, of course must be in English, to reach everyone. A strong, reputed editorial board is necessary along with a team of independent reviewers. Reputation can only be built up over time.
To make publication in the Chinese journals attractive, the would-be publisher could provide a good language editing service to submitting authors for an affordable fee. This will help Asian researchers to overcome the language barrier in publishing good articles. The English editing service should not be provided by pure English language experts but by scientist who understand the work written in the manuscript. Only when one understands the content could one write it in a clear way. There are many retired scientists with good English skills who will be glad to provide this service at a nominal fee. This will be an attractive function for Asian researchers from non-English background.
Limiting the number of publications in the CV is practiced in many universities in recruitment of faculty. In our university, we ask the applicant to list 5 of his best works. During the interview, we ask him to explain why he chose these five. These days articles in high-impact journals have a large number of authors. Many of them contribute a small part to the paper while only one or two will know the full overview of the work. When PIs apply for large research grants, evaluating the person by scrutinizing the citations of papers alone could be misleading. We should try to assess his contributions to these papers to evaluate his abilities and suitability for a grant. This also sends the message that quality is more important than quantity.
I wish you good luck China.
I think the core of the two Chinese official documents is to reduce the number of low-quality journals, both local and international, from the author’s end, to encourage the dissemination of knowledge and science advances through high-quality conferences and timely exchanges, and to attach importance of the theory to its combination with practice, thus putting forward higher requirements for journals, that is, how to facilitate readers to quickly access to related articles published by fewer high-quality journals. This is really worthy of wide-range discussion.
The quality of the research may be judged by its impact on society rather than impact factor. I would be happy to be a part of Asian Council of Science Editors.
In my opinion, this is no doubt a good idea and mission to share the ideas and constructive approach for maintaining the standards of the Asian Publishing Industry. However, It could be more appropriate if there is an effort of involving teamwork in term of collaboration with other Asian Countries.
My opinions on the most important elements of the action plan:
Limiting the number of publications in assessments of scientific achievements is in my opinion justified.
Targeting national STM magazines with international influence is appropriate
and the best international magazines and important scientific conferences. In my opinion, patents should also be included.
I believe that the restrictions may be as follows: in grant applications, individual researchers are limited
to a maximum of 10 representative papers from a period of 10 years. In the grant reports, up to 5 works.
Periodic assessment of the achievements of the researcher: an average of one publication per year
and patents obtained incidentally in the years covered by the assessment.
Other issues in the planned strategy are country-specific and I do not have sufficient knowledge in this regard.
Researchers quickly adapt to any system for quantifying their achievements.
The effects depend on the system’s compliance with the goals to be achieved.
Excellent work shall be approved and try to get the excel
Overall, the idea looks pragmatic.
A very appreciable move toward the real scientific work that could really improve Asians quality of research especially and the humanity in general. There are researchers producing bundles of papers for the sake of moving to higher positions with nothing real on ground. Rectification of policies on Part of journals from time to time will unearth the real and high impact research. I will stand whatever steps are taken in this regards.
The initiative is a good one and action plan is perfect. The quality has to be focused rather than quantity. The Renowned Scientits from their field of speciality shoul be included in Editorial Board. The quality of the research may be judged by its impact on society rather than impact factor. I would be happy to be a part of Asian Council of Science Editors.
I personally think that China should look more towards publishing in their own journal, that will help build the quality of Chinese journals. China can strengthen the editorial board of their journals by inducting people with good English and having good scientific understandings. the editorial board and reviewers play an important role in development of science, hence now is the time that china should switch to indigenous resource development, this will be a key in the uplift of science in China. Don’t bother about impact factor, look for impact of research to solve the field problems of local nature, international nature or others. One thing is China should switch to English in writing paper and the paper on Chinese language should be discouraged.
There is no point to keep on producing journal without enhancing the quality of work. Quality of life of researcher is much more important than publishing. By limiting the count of publications in determining KPI will greatly enhance the quality of work and quality of life of the researcher.
I agree that the quality of journals is very important. At the same time, number of articles published in an issue of the journal should also be restricted to a particular number, say <20 articles. Reducing the number of local journals is a good move towards increasing quality but these journals should have an international Editorial Board, comprised of well recognized/respected scientists in their fields. Furthermore, quality of research should not be judged by the number of papers rather based on the impact factor of the journal and citations of the articles.
This is actually a very brilliant approach.
Quality should be the top priority instead of quantity.
New competitor journals are a dire need of the moment.
I appreciate the initiative of preparing action plan by the China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Education to improve the quality of Chinese STM Journals. This will definitely help other Asian countries to publish their researches in good journals of China. Moreover, this action plan will encourage different institutes and researchers to conduct timely and important research in China. However, the management of Chinese Journals should always try to maintain the quality of Journals comparable to Western Journals (Europe and North America).
I think the Action Plan is sound.
I think that the action plan is appropriate, because it favors quality rather than quantity.
I am thinking that the scientific community should not be involved only on core research work like the molecular biotechnology or deeper. Some basic updated research like the principles work is necessary. The popular article like the corona virus and its impact on regular livelihood should be priorities.
Diversity and inclusion are also important in the scientific area. Therefore, teamwork with other countries will result in improved quality.
it’s not only plagiarism but language and grammar are also to be taken note of. Some of the Asian countries are good in writing skills, but unfortunately, high throughput types of equipment are lacking in the developing countries, hence they lack in quality publications. This has to be rectified -now since China has good labs and best equipment, they should encourage more collaborations with Asian countries to produce good quality publications and this way they can overcome language problems.
Asian editors should join chines editors and should work together to share costs for good publications
Dr. Kaiser Jamil
I strongly believe this is a very good initiative to prevent pertinent issues, related to focus on publications in SCI/SSCI and mandatory formalities/requirements in some institutions. This certainly open the doors for further evaluation to bridge gaps in number of publications against reviewers, positive impact of academic papers across all sectors and to some extent, helping Chinese journals up or amplify their quality against other top journals in Europe/America.
Isaac Sarfo (PhD student)
Elevating the quality of scientific publications by encouraging high quality works is needed. Nevertheless, more fundamental means must be used. A major one is to evaluate a manuscript by looking at the research process leading to the manuscript, not just by evaluating the meer manuscript. This is beacus some of us became master in producing papers without enough research basis. Such papers may even be published in high impact factor jurnals due to the insuficient review proceses. In fact a change in the review process of journals is needed. Of course it takes time and can be regarded as a long term trend. Meanwhile, reseach supporting bodies can evaluate the research of a scientist, a lab, etc by not just looking at the published papers, but at the research path and priciples at a hole. Approprate methologies for such evaluations must be provided. bearing in mind the mentioned suggestions, I am not against the three presented goals. But limiting the number of papers in grantinig proceses does not nesslry results realy high quality publications and cannot distingue acitive researches from very active ones.
Professor of ECE, University of Tehran,
This a very good step in the right direction. Chinese researchers and Journal/book publishers should be able to streamline, strengthen and develop a strong base to produce and publish the ever increasing research data that abound in their country for their benefit and and the entire Asian sub-region.
I congratulate you on this laudable initiative and wish you sustained progress.
A C Wada Ph. D
Good articles evolve from academic research; and research means project. Project work requires finance. My advice would be to provide liberal project financing in addition to what is described in the indicated initiative to enhance local/national/regional publication environment.
Very good idea if Pak-China editors works on combined journal. China as well as Pak authors spend thousands of dollars each year on publication in journals of Europe and USA. Good journals will save a lot of foreign exchange in both countries. I am happy to cooperate in combined Pak-china journals, please.
Dear Dr. Amanullah, very good idea. Do you have any concrete plan?
Dear Dear Dr. Amanullah,
this sounds reasonable, and I I agree with you. This will also increase heterogenity, which would be beneficial.